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Proposed amendments focus on avoiding 'financial cliff' and lowering Dallas property tax rate

The Dallas city hall Wednesday, Aug 16, 2023.
Yfat Yossifor
After concerns over the city manager's recommended budget, many council members have proposed amendments that focus on reductions.

The Dallas City Council will discuss dozens of amendments on Wednesday ahead of finalizing the city’s budget later in the month.

The proposals range from cutting nearly 100 employee positions that haven't been filled for months, to eliminating what the city spends on advertising the Bahama Beach Water Park.

That’s according to a memo released by Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax. The memo prompted at times tense discussions around the horseshoe about the city’s financial future.

District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn recently sent a memo to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson about what some officials have called a “financial cliff” — and to start the conversation about lower property taxes.

“With a backlog of over $16 billion in unfunded maintenance and financial investment, city attention and funding must be laser-focused on the basic city services where the city has primary…jurisdiction,” Mendelsohn said in her memo.

Many of Mendelsohn’s proposals are aimed at adopting a budget that is financial responsible, while also having a lower tax rate.

Out of the 63 amendments, 13 were proposed by Mendelsohn. Each of her proposed amendment details a different way to achieve a lower tax rate. But it also means cutting back.

For a lower tax rate to work, Mendelsohn says full time employee budgeting needs to be realistic. She recommends removing half of nearly 160 full time positions that have been open for six to 12 months. That could net the city well over $5 million — and that is just one area of the budget she proposed to cut.

Mendelsohn’s proposed amendments include numerous areas of reduction including in management services and even the mayor and city council allocations as well. One option would reduce the management services for the Office of Community Police Oversight.

The council voted in late August to adopt the city manager’s recommended property tax rate ceiling.

Not every council member submitted proposed amendments, but of the ones who did, many were aimed at cutting the budget back and — like Mendelsohn — lowering tax rates.

But, District 1 Council Member Chad West’s proposed amendments focused on infrastructure and starting to deal with the city’s pension issues.

One of West’s proposals would reduce the city’s Inspector General allocations in an effort to add more funding for anticipated litigation over the city’s newly adopted Short Term Rental ordinance.

Council members have known about upcoming financial burdens — like billions in unfunded liabilities with multiple city pension systems — for years. Now some officials say now is the time to course correct.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

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Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.